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NRMN and Staff Supporting the Academic Research Enterprise

By May 22, 2019No Comments

Written By: Paula Carney, PhD & Kristin Eide Boman, MPH

Mentoring is an important component in Research Development (RD), a profession within the academic research enterprise that has emerged in the last decade. Research development includes incorporation of a set of strategic, proactive, catalytic, and capacity-building activities to facilitate individual faculty members, teams of researchers, and central research administrations in attracting extramural research funding, creating relationships, and developing and implementing strategies that increase institutional competitiveness. 1,2   These activities are usually practiced at universities, but are also part of the research enterprise in other research institutions.3  RD staff can benefit from mentoring relationships and the National Organization of Research Development Professionals (NORDP) has a well-established mentoring program and mentoring tools but no formal mentor training initiative.


In 2018, a NORDP subcommittee was established to explore alignment with mentor training initiatives of the National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN). The subcommittee included several members who had completed NRMN mentor training, including one certified mentor trainer, and one member of the NRMN Professional Development Core. Members adapted mentor training curricula from the Center for the Improvement of Mentored Research Experiences (CIMER) at the University of Wisconsin to align with research development roles within the research enterprise that included the following competencies:  aligning expectations, promoting professional development, maintaining effective communication, addressing equity and inclusion, assessing understanding, fostering independence, cultivating ethical behavior, enhancing work/life integration, and articulating a mentoring philosophy and plan.


A Workshop was selected for presentation at the sold-out NORDP Annual Conference in Providence, Rhode Island on April 30, 2019 to pilot research development mentor training, which focused on formative evaluation of Introduction to Mentor Training and Maintaining Effective Communication modules in a 2-hour workshop.


NRMN-trained facilitators Paula Carney, University of Chicago, and Etta Ward, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, along with Kathryn Partlow, University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Erica Severan-Webb, Xavier University of Louisiana presented the workshop, which was also developed by Jan Abramson, NRMN-trained facilitator, University of Utah; Kristin Eide Boman, NRMN Professional Core Member, University of Utah Health; and Rachael Voas, Iowa State University.


Formative evaluation identified feedback to better align the mentor training curriculum with mentoring needs in the RD profession. Additional summative evaluation from the CIMER retrospective pre/post MCA survey will inform the final mentor training curriculum. Launch of formal mentor training for research development professionals is anticipated at the 2020 NORDP annual meeting and committee members are collaborating with CIMER to make training materials available through their site. It is anticipated that the final mentor training curriculum can also be adapted to other roles to further contribute to staff development in the academic research enterprise.


In addition, NRMN Professional Development Core members Kristin Eide Boman, Assistant Director, University of Utah Health, and Thaddeus Unold, Data Manager, University of Minnesota, presented preliminary outcomes of the NRMN Grant Writing Coaching Group programs at the NORDP conference.  Eide Boman and Unold also shared lessons learned on implementing and managing coaching groups across the nation.  More than 60 people attended the session.



  1. What is Research Development? The National Organization of Research Development Professionals.
  2. Budescu, G. and Walker, B.L.E. 2012. Social Scientists and Research Development: What Do Research Development Professionals Do? American Sociological Association, Footnotes, February 2012, p. 3;
  3. National Organization of Research Development Professionals 2017 brochure.



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